Long Beach, CA – The holiday season is a time for joyous celebrations, beloved traditions, and long-awaited gatherings with family and friends. With the winter holidays in full swing and New Year's quickly approaching, the City of Long Beach is offering the following tips to ensure everyone has a safe, healthy and enjoyable holiday season.
Decorating is one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit, but because more than one-third of home decoration fires are started by candles and more than two of every five decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, it is important to decorate safely. To prevent these holiday hazards, follow the below tips to ensure a safe, fire-free holiday:
- Place Christmas trees at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights, and add water to the tree stand daily to prevent drying out.
- Replace any light strings that have worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections, and use clips, not nails, to hang lights so the cords do not get damaged. Do not exceed the manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
- Avoid placing breakable ornaments or ones with small, detachable parts on lower tree branches where small children can reach them. Always turn off all light strings and Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.
- Choose decorations that are flame resistant or flame retardant.
- Never use lit candles to decorate a tree. Candles should be kept away from decorations and other things that can burn, and instead of using open-flame candles for a table centerpiece or in other home decor, opt for battery-operated candles.
- Keep potentially poisonous plants, such as mistletoe, holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis, away from children and pets.
With the hustle and bustle of entertaining family and friends during the holidays, it is important to follow the below steps to ensure everyone remains safe and injury free.
- If entertaining in the evening, ensure your entryway is well-lit so guests have a safe walkway into your home. Also consider removing low-to-the-ground décor or small furniture inside or outside to avoid bumping, tripping or falling.
- Always stay in the kitchen while cooking on the stovetop; unattended cooking is the leading cause of cooking fires and casualties. If using the oven, be sure to check it regularly, use a timer and remain home while food is cooking.
- Always keep children away from hot stoves as well as hot food and liquids as steam or splash could cause serious burns.
- Keep children and pets away from lit candles and keep matches and lighters up high in a locked cabinet.
- Test smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan. Don’t have an emergency plan? Follow these steps to get you and your family prepared.
With respiratory viruses such as flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) currently circulating at higher rates than usual for this time of year, and with COVID-19 cases steadily increasing, the City’s Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) recommends that people take the following steps below to avoid endangering those at high risk, such as older adults and young children:
- Consider outdoor gatherings. Activities that take place outdoors are safer than indoor activities with regards to spreading viruses and germs. Try to avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
- Adults and children over the age of 2 should wear a mask when indoors, especially those who are at high risk for severe disease and after close contact with someone who is known to be sick or who has tested positive for COVID-19.
- Get vaccinated and boosted for COVID-19 and flu. Vaccines and boosters continue to be the easiest and best defenses against COVID-19 illness. People may also receive their flu shot at the same time as their COVID-19 vaccine or booster at all City-run COVID-19 vaccine sites. To view the most up-to-date vaccine clinic schedule and to schedule an appointment, visit longbeach.gov/vaxLB or call 562.570.4636. It is recommended that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a yearly flu vaccine.
- People experiencing congestion or a runny nose, the sniffles, sore throat, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea should get tested for COVID-19. Appointments can be made at longbeach.gov/covid19testing or by calling 562.570.4636.
- If you are sick or are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, the best thing to do for everyone is to rest at home.
- Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before coming into contact with high-touch surfaces like serving utensils.
The Center for Disease Control also provides recommendations for a healthy holiday, including domestic and international travel tips.
Driving and Pedestrian Safety
The City encourages everyone to remain safe while on the road and out and about this holiday season. Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure drivers, pedestrians and all commuters practice safe, responsible behavior:
- Celebrate Responsibly. To prevent injury to yourself and others, if consuming alcohol, designate a sober driver, or use a taxi or ride-sharing service to get to and from your destination. Remember that driving under the influence includes alcohol, marijuana, some prescription and over the counter drugs, and illegal drugs. As DUI-related traffic accidents typically increase during the holiday season, additional officers from the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) will be on patrol over the holiday to help deter drivers from driving under the influence. In Long Beach, DUI-related traffic collisions claimed the lives of 14 people in 2020 and six people in 2021.
- Stay focused while on the road. Distracted driving, identified as anything that takes one’s eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel, poses serious threat to people’s safety. Plan routes in advance and avoid texting or otherwise using a cell phone while driving.
- Pedestrians and bicyclists should commute with caution and maintain strict awareness of their surroundings, especially at night and when crossing streets, even when crossing in a marked crosswalk.
Prevent Package Thefts
The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) offers the following tips to help keep holiday packages safe:
- To help prevent possible theft from your porch and/or burglaries, have packages delivered to a store, facility or a trusted neighbor and/or schedule package deliveries for when someone will be home.
- Some delivery services may also allow you to provide special instructions – when able, ask for your delivery to be placed in a hidden area, such as on the side of your home or behind plants or other objects.
- When able, immediately bring in packages as soon as they arrive. Additionally, if possible, install exterior motion sensor lighting and home security cameras at your residence.
- Additional crime prevention tips are available here.
Fireworks Safety and Reporting, and Other Illegal Activity
While fireworks are often used to mark special occasions and holidays, they are not safe in the hands of consumers and are best left to the professionals. This New Year’s Eve, residents can enjoy two professional fireworks shows, presented by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance and Harbor Breeze, at 9 p.m. and midnight along the downtown waterfront.
The City encourages people to report illegal firework usage. More information about how to report fireworks is available at longbeach.gov/fireworks.
“Celebratory” gunfire is considered an illegal discharge of a firearm and is very dangerous. Discharging a firearm for celebratory purposes could result in injury or death to anyone struck, and jail time for the offenders.
Community members are also encouraged to “See Something, Say Something” and report suspicious activity by calling the City’s non-emergency phone tree at 562.435.6711. For emergencies, always dial 9-1-1.
By celebrating the holiday season safely, collectively we can help achieve a safe Long Beach for all.
Media inquiries may be directed to the Office of Public Affairs and Communications at 562.570.6397 or LongBeachMedia@longbeach.gov.